Diary Of A Busker Day 671 Friday November 28th 2014 Hythe (Opposite Harvey’s Sandwich Bar/In front of Waitrose)
The first of two days in Hythe, at the request of Helen from the council and Chris Bradford, who says I’ll get £40 for expenses – almost twice as much as I need. I did protest but not too loudly. It’s also the first day back at the ‘day job’ in two weeks, so I’m prepared to forget a few things. On the way out on the Hythe ferry, I got a couple of photos of two big cargo shops from the company Wallenius Wilhelmsen – one was white and green, the other white and red.
While I was setting up, an old guy was talking to an old lady nearby – ‘Yeah, I’m still going. I’ve ‘ad a few broken things…a few scrotums (I’m sure that’s what he said!)…yeah, I’m still about…’. I started playing at 10:30, the same time as I’ll start tomorrow. Chris reckons I should get there and start early to get all the people, although there’s not more than usual. A young guy brings me a cup of coffee and a mince pie, for which I thank him, but when I take a sip a few minutes later, the cup’s only half full! The pie was alright, though.
On the phone the other day, Chris said this was an Italian market but I think that’s down the road as the stalls on my left are selling French stuff and the two blokes running them are definitely French because after the Gnossienne, one comes over and says ‘Air-reek Satee’, then after the Elvis one, he says ‘Bravo’. So he’s got to be French! Then, a face I recognise, but I really have to be quick to remember the name…it’s Geoffrey, the old guy with the medals from the last time I was here, on the 9th, Remembrance Sunday. He donated, then I asked how he was. ‘Oh, not so good today…The Third Man, please!’ He remembered! After I played it, he put in another coin then squeezed my shoulder. He really loved it. He said ‘Oh, that’s great, it…’ and his voice sort of trailed off like he was going to get emotional – poor old guy, then he walked off.
I caught sight of the town crier, all dolled up in that silly old gear they wear. I hadn’t realised he was standing a few feet away, waiting for me to finish the song so he could shout something…which was to tell everyone about the Mistletoe Fayre – that’s with the olde worlde English spelling, of course – that’s the deal for tomorrow. He came over to me a bit later and said ‘You don’t usually do these, do you?’ I said I’d been here a few times, now, but today is just a normal Friday, not the Mistletoe Fayre, so I’m not sure what he meant. Actually, maybe this isn’t a normal Friday!
I did the usual 2 hours and 15 minutes – near the end my mind was starting to go! – then I packed up, not to come home but to have a break before the last hour. Most of the stuff was OK…I lost concentration during Sukiyaki and messed some of that up: the chord changes are so fast, you’ve gotta be on the ball for that one!…and I messed up the middle bit of Ne Me Quite Pas – quite embarrassing, especially as the French bloke recognised it straight away. But Music To Watch Girls By, even Ol’ Man River were OK.
I took quite a long break: 45 minutes, but I needed it. I left the amp with the French guy – his idea. I forgot to say, the Big Issue bloke, Bosnian John, was in his usual spot. Before I started, I went to say hello and he tried to sell me a paper – unsuccessfully, and when I finished the 1st set, he obviously thought I was heading off, and he was over straight away and tried again, the cheeky sod. I tried to tell him I’d have to see how it goes: I’d done a count-up and there was £27.42p, which would have been OK for Winchester but it was rather disappointing for Hythe. Maybe I’m not exciting them anymore…nothing lasts forever…familiarity, etc…
Anyway, I had a look around the charity shops and almost bought a biography of Peter Cook as I’d been listening to my Derek and Clive cassettes on the cruise. I always think of that time when me and Doll went to the News Quiz recording at the old BBC Paris Studios in Regent Street and Peter Cook came on, saw Trevor McDonald and said ‘I didn’t know you were black!’ Anyway, I didn’t buy the book although I did warm up for a bit.
The 2nd set was OK, but I’d had enough by then: 3 hours plus is a long time to play after all that time off. And I had to start repeating everything. A bloke requested Georgia On My Mind – I really need to revise/rehearse that Duck Baker arrangement. I ended up doing an hour and 15 minutes, so that made almost 3 hours and 45 minutes…bloody hell! The hands were OK, though: left thumb was OK. It was the brain that was going.
When I packed up, the other French guy made a pancake, in fact, they’re called something else…they’re really big! Then they put lemon and sugar and wrap them up, or roll them up – rather good. They were nice to me, the French blokes. I asked if they’d be here tomorrow. No, only twice a year he said. He told me about a French singer – Aurore, who sometimes sings when they appear, or she did when she was in France. Now, she’s married some English bloke and it’s too cold to sing out here.
When I packed up, I went over to Bosnian John with my £2.50p, but it’s the Christmas issue and it’s £3! So I just gave him the £2.50 and didn’t take a magazine. I would have forked out the other 50p if I’d done better. Then a young bloke in a woolly hat came up and asked if I’d been playing earlier. I said I had and that I’d be here tomorrow as well, and he said ‘Would you mind if I jammed with you?’ and I said I’d rather he didn’t. I said ‘I’m just sort of used to myself. I can change rhythms if I want (since when do I ever change rhythms?!)…I don’t even like it if there’s someone sitting down with a drum…’ I don’t think I was too hurtful about it. I don’t know. He’s young, he’ll get over it. Anyway, I don’t know what’s going to happen if I let someone join in. They might never go.
No CD sale today, although the bloke who bought me the half coffee asked about them. When I said I only had the £9 ones, he said maybe he’d buy one next week, as I said I might be here then. I asked where he lived and he said ‘On the island’, which made me laugh. Island? What, Treasure Island? The Mysterious Island? No, the Isle Of Wight, he said. Which brings to mind When I’m Sixty-Four and the only bit anyone seems to remember – ‘Bottle of wine’. And it happened again, today. You can see them mouth the words ‘Bottle of wine’ after the ‘birthday greetings’ bit. And that’s the only bit anyone knows!